When the Houston Astros acquired Domingo Santana as a player to be named in the Hunter Pence deal that also saw Jon Singleton and Jarred Cosart come to Houston in 2011, he was seen as a lottery ticket -- a talented outfielder with serious pitch-recognition issues who had high potential reward but a ton of risk as well.
Those risks are still present, but based on how he has performed since becoming a member of the Astros organization, it's safe to say there's definitely more reward than risk in his right-handed bat.
"There's a lot to like," an AL Central scout said. "All you have to do is look at the guy, and you know he's got the ability to hit for power. Yes, there are contact issues, but he squares up pitches so well that I don't think it's going to as big of a burden as some make it out to be. I don't think he's going to hit .300, but I see a guy who can hit .270 with 30 homers. You don't see a lot of guys like that in the minor leagues right now."
Santana's raw power is impressive -- his strong 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame helps him create tremendous leverage -- and he's capable of hitting the ball out of every part of the park. Some have questioned his hit tool, but it should be at least average, as he has improved his ability to recognize pitches, and while he's not going to remind anyone of Edgar Martinez in terms of walks, he's not allergic to them either. The only category Santana is sure not to help you in is stolen bases, though it's not out of the question for him to provide a handful steals with his average speed.
There are still questions about Santana's profile, some of them in his control and some not. The contact issues aren't going away, as seen in his 70 strikeouts already this year, and there are concerns about whether he's going to be able to handle quality right-handed pitching. In the past two seasons, he hasn't had large splits in terms of power, but he hit just .242 against right-handers in 2013, and his .271 average this year pales in comparison to the .333 mark he has against southpaws.
"It's a little concerning," an AL East crosschecker said when asked about those splits. "But you can live with that if he's hitting for power, which he obviously has over the past few seasons. If he were hitting under .200 with a terrible on-base percentage and no power, then yes, you obviously get worried about calling him an everyday player."
What isn't in Santana's control is the Astros' outfield situation. Though it doesn't appear that there's a long-term roadblock to Santana's becoming an everyday outfielder, circumstances are just murky enough to create some doubt for 2014. Dexter Fowler and the suddenly white-hot George Springer aren't going anywhere and have center and right fields locked down. That leaves left field, where Robbie Grossman has performed consistently since his recall from Oklahoma City. Santana, meanwhile, won't be 22 until August -- and despite their hot streak, it's seriously unlikely that Houston will contend for a playoff spot -- so there's no reason for the Astros to rush him if they feel he's not ready.
That being said, Santana has shown marked improvement in his short time in the Pacific Coast League, and if the Astros do determine he's ready at some point this summer, he's capable of helping your fantasy club's power production in a big way.
Now on to this week's edition of the top 10, where we have three new names to add the list -- and more likely coming in the next few weeks.
Editor's note: With news that Jon Singleton has been called up by the Astros, he remains on the rankings for this week but will move off for the next edition.